Writing It Down for James

Kurt Brown, Editor Beacon Press (MA) $15 (197p) ISBN 978-0-8070-6349-1
The second in an annual series edited by the founding director of Writers' Conferences and Festivals, this anthology of 16 lectures delivered at writers' conferences is loosely organized around the theme of travel. John Malcolm Brinnin meditates on the sense of wonder and ``gift of serendipity'' that propel the travel writer's work and life. Edward Hirsch views poetry as ``a journey to the interior.'' For Alan Cheuse, the story of a 53-year-old truck driver who is learning to read becomes the impetus for a reflection on a reader's voyage. David Wojahn and late poet Lynda Hull, to whom the volume is dedicated, distinguish the traveler's poetry from that of the tourist. Alison Hawthorne Deming and Gary Paul Nabhan consider how nature writers travel through their environment and, as important, how nature travels through them. ``We are inspired by what surrounds us; we take it into our bodies and after some rumination, we respond with expression,'' notes Nabhan. Seeing in contemporary fiction a more intimate relationship between characters and objects, Charles Baxter is led to a thought-provoking reconsideration of John Ruskin's concept of the pathetic fallacy. As Bruce Duffy says of the tenuous relationship between fact and fiction, ``the idea, always, is to find true north, or at least a possible true north, or multiple norths.'' The diverse travelers in this anthology point the way to multiple norths, and lovers of literature will enjoy journeying with them. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/29/1995
Release date: 05/01/1995
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